Members of the Hempstead Town Board are only the latest in a long line of elected officials of both parties who have voted to give themselves a pay raise in the period between Election Day and the start of their new term. You knew what the pay was before you accepted the nomination. This practice should be prohibited in all New York government units. Don’t count on that, since the state Legislature has done this three times since the 1980s. It will have to be banned one municipality at a time.
We don’t apply a single income tax rate to all the residents of an entire ZIP code or school district, so why do we still do it that way with property taxes? One theoretical partial bandage for the broken property tax system would be to apply state school aid on a household-by-household basis, so that middle-income families are not penalized for living in “high wealth” districts.
1. For New Yorkers, this year’s federal stimulus mostly was a tax stabilization program, holding off state and local government budget meltdowns. This was a useful, if unromantic, purpose. Unfortunately, it is hard to turn around a national economy when no one really knows what our economy is supposed to look like. Create jobs? There are plenty of new jobs for which Americans can apply; many of them are in Guangdong Province where the salary explosion has jacked up average pay to over $6,000. The 1988 free trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada actually created a boomlet in Western New York, where salaries and other costs were a little lower than those in nearby Toronto. Free trade in the 1990s and 2000s has largely meant free access to cheap, exploited labor. Elsewhere. At this point, the jury is back and those who pushed for the kind of free trade we actually got should probably just take a deep bow and gracefully retire from public life forever…
You probably don’t know who Gary McKinnon is, but to millions of people in Great Britain, he has become a cause celebre that has united elements of the political right, left and center and threatens to seriously damage the image of the United States abroad. It is front-page news in every British newspaper, but has barely made a dent in the compliant American media. But when I tell you who he is, you may say, “Oh, yeah,” because what he did in 2001 and 2002 made a splash in our news and in the monologues of late night comedians.
Before we follow the advice of some politicians and pundits and launch a war on our public schools and the people who work in them, let’s pause to consider the reality on the ground.
1. State leaders are talking about across-the-board spending cuts to close growing budget deficits. The across-the-board approach may seem to be the quickest, fairest way at first glance, but in the long run it can cost the most, because all measures of effectiveness and usefulness are removed from the equation. Particularly when dealing with state agencies, Long Island not-for-profit organizations that receive funding to provide needed support services must file detailed outcome reports. Then along comes a budget crunch and across-the-board reductions hurt and even jeopardize programs that do great jobs along with any that don’t.…
1. As of the moment this is being written, Legislator Ed Mangano leads County Executive Suozzi by 497 votes on voting machines. The counting of over 8,000 absentee and other paper ballots might be completed by the time you read this. Most political people believe Mr. Mangano is the favorite to win because more enrolled Republicans returned absentee ballots than enrolled Democrats. However, some of those Republicans are actually older “hidden” Democrats, vestiges from a time when it was smarter and safer to enroll with the G.O.P. just in case you had to do business with the county or town. Are there enough of them to make up that kind of ground? Twenty years ago, the answer was definitely, “maybe yes.” Today, it’s not as clear. Insiders say that the Mangano campaign worked the absentee ballots much more than the Suozzi campaign, meaning they made direct contact with applicants. If so, it’s another sign that the Democratic Party is losing institutional knowledge of even the basic mechanics of campaign making. It isn’t all about collecting large campaign checks.…
It will take focus groups and other research tools to really figure out the reasons voters cast their ballots one way or another. Already, the morning after the county election, with the outcomes of two countywide races and a legislative race on hold possibly for weeks, we are subjected to some very tortured and self-serving explanations, particularly from some disappointed Democrats.
Face the ugly facts. In many parts of Nassau County, four out of five Democrats did not feel that the act of voting was worth their time. Younger, independent voters have turned away from our local politics. The voters most likely to support countywide Democrats were uninspired and unengaged and went on with their lives. Overall, more than seven out of 10 Nassau County voters didn’t want to play this game.
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Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org